Self-responsibility… There’s (not) an app for that

Inspired by those hating on and those not accepting responsibility for their smartphone use (and abuse), oh and the book How to Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

I have three questions for you…

Q1: Do you find yourself spending more time on your smartphone than you realize?

Q2: Do you wish you could do something to reduce the hold your phone has over you?

Q3: Are you to blame?


We seem to live in a world these days reminiscent of one of my favorite episodes of The Simpsons, Trash of the Titans.

Just like in Springfield where the townsfolk were too lazy to deal with their own rubbish problems and decide to outsource them to a round-the-clock sanitation service instead, we seem to be constantly dodging responsibility.

We look for every possible reason why we can blame someone else for the problem at hand and when it comes time to fixing the problem, we outsource it.

Like Homer, we ask: “Can’t someone else do it?”

I would argue that there is no stronger indicator of this “can’t-someone-else-do-it?” culture than in the way we are responding to our so-called “addiction” to our digital devices.

Instead of accepting responsibility for the way we use technology, and for our reluctance to set up boundaries between our online and offline lives, we blame social media, we blame the tech companies, we blame the app designers. In short, we blame everyone but ourselves.

Yes, our phones are designed to addict us, but in the same way that Netflix is set-up to keep you “binging” by automatically playing the next episode in the queue, we ultimately have control and make the choice whether to stay or go; as Catherine Price argues in her book How to Break Up With Your Phone, “what we think of as irresistible impulses are actually invitations… The moment you recognise that you don’t have to say yes to every invitation is the moment you regain control over your life.”

We are kidding ourselves if we expect app developers, social media founders and smartphone designers to build into their products ways to limit our use (and abuse) of technology.

Just like supermarkets are not going to suddenly stop selling unhealthy food just because it’s bad for you, we can’t and should not simply expect “someone else to do it”.

It is time for us to take a good hard look at ourselves and acknowledge what WE are doing to create or maintain the dysfunctional relationship that we have with our phones.

To stare into the face of the pocket-sized black mirror in front of us, and admit…

It’s not you, it’s me.

Originally published at

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


How to Know You Are Accountable

by Pat Obuchowski

Taking Responsibility for Our Actions

by Shirley J. Davis

Who’s to Blame? 94% Chance It’s a System Failure, Not You

by Doug Andrew

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.